Thousands of students marched on the California state Capitol to protest the rising costs of being educated at California universities and community colleges. The more general Occupy movement also had several hundred members attending the rally in what they claim is an attempt to show solidarity to mixed reaction from the students:
Some student activists have expressed frustration that Occupy supporters are grabbing the spotlight from their efforts to lobby legislators on education issues.
Occupy supporters said they are simply throwing their weight behind the effort by students.
The march on the Capitol is the culmination of a walk that started some days before as students marched from various areas to arrive at UC Davis Sunday evening, being joined by others who went directly, and prepare for the final leg on to the Capitol Monday morning.
Despite Occupy grabbing some of the headlines and publicity, the rally was organized by the Student Senate for California Community Colleges, California State Student Association and the University of California Student Association.
The “Fund our Future” rally called on lawmakers to increase funding for higher education and received much more respect from lawmakers than a typical Occupy rally, being addressed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Speak John A. Perez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg on the steps of the Capitol.
Unfortunately the day of peaceful, if noisy, protest was marred at the end by a small group arrested for trespassing after refusing to leave long after the daily closure of the Capitol at 6pm. As numbers dwindled the rally morphed into a sit-in, perhaps indicating that Occupy members made up a much greater percentage of people remaining at the end of the day than at the beginning. The arrests were inevitable as a small core attended with that specific goal in mind.
“My intention coming here today was to get arrested,” said Chris Schildt, a 29-year-old graduate student at UC Berkeley
While the debate about whether Occupy hijacked the student’s rally will continue, they did succeed in getting publicity for their campaign against further cuts in education.
Orange County State Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, stuck around the Capitol late Monday and watched the arrests.
“I don’t agree with getting arrested,” the senator said. “But I agree with their message. No more cuts to education.”